Affordance based design (ABD) theory has been presented in several papers and has interested several researchers in the field of design. One criticism of ABD is that the number of affordances identified can be very large, and therefore, the approach may not be amenable for automation. This paper presents a computer based implementation of a process to improve design using affordances.
The Affordance Structure Matrix (ASM) design tool is used to identify relevant relationships between the design parameters of an artifact and the affordances (positive and negative) identified by the user. This initial work investigates multiple existing solutions. A user assigns values to critical affordances that are listed in an ASM by visualizing the possible solutions. The parameter values that describe the architecture of the artifact are encoded and fed to a computer code in addition to the multiple affordance values. A Genetic Algorithm is then used to find an optimal combination of design parameters based on the multiple criteria, the affordances, generating new and better concepts.
The approach is applied to the redesign of a steering wheel. Multiple variants of steering wheels available in the literature are presented to the user. After twenty generations of the genetic algorithm, using an additive weighting method, an optimal solution is found and presented.